Wealthy Frenchman

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Soldier's dad tells Bush `this war is wrong'

Eric Zorn
Published March 20, 2007

The two-page letter is signed from the "proud father of a fallen soldier."

A little more than six weeks ago, his soul a cauldron of grief and rage, Richard Landeck, 56, of Wheaton addressed and mailed it to President Bush.

And since he has yet to receive an acknowledgment or reply, he asked me if I'd help get his message out.

"My voice, and that of many other frustrated Americans, is not being heard," he said.

It's the least I can do, I replied.

"My son was killed in Iraq on February 2, 2007," says the letter. "His name is Captain Kevin Landeck. ...

"He was killed while riding in a Humvee by a roadside bomb just south of Baghdad. He has a loving mother, a loving father and loving sister. You took him away from us."

The letter adds that Kevin Landeck, 26, a Wheaton Warrenville South High School and Purdue University graduate, had been married for 17 months and was very proud to be serving his country.

But "the message he continued to send to me was that of incompetence," Landeck's letter says. "Incompetence by you, (Vice President Dick) Cheney and (former defense secretary Donald) Rumsfeld. Incompetence by some of his commanders as well as the overall strategy of your decisions.

"When I asked him about what he thought about your decision to `surge' more troops to Baghdad, he told me, `until the Iraqis pick up the ball we are going to get cut to shreds. It doesn't matter how many troops Bush sends, nothing has been addressed to solve the problem he started,'" Landeck's letter says.

This is a reasonably close paraphrase of an e-mail Kevin Landeck sent to his parents on Jan. 19, a short note signed "live from the (excrement) show" that referred to the war strategy as "senseless."

"Answer me this," Richard Landeck's letter demands of Bush. "How in the world can you justify invading Iraq when the problem began and continues to lie in Afghanistan? I don't want your idiotic standard answer about keeping America safe. What did Saddam Hussein have to do with 9/11?"

The letter says, "You have succeeded in taking down over 3,100 of our best young men, my son being one of them. Kevin told me many times we are not fighting terrorism in Iraq and they could not do their jobs as soldiers. He said they are trained to be on the offensive and to fight, but all they are doing is acting like policemen. ...

"He asked permission to take some of his men out at night with their night-vision glasses--because as he said `we own the night'--and watch for the people who are setting roadside bombs and `take them out.' He said, `I want them to be the ones that are scared.' He was denied permission. Why?"

Richard Landeck and his wife, Vicki, have never been active in politics, they told me as I sat with them around their kitchen table Sunday night in the Stonehedge subdivision in the heart of DuPage County. He's a sales rep. She's a dental hygienist. Their other child, Jennifer, 23, is an actress who also works part-time at the nearby golf course.

As the war in Iraq enters its fifth year, look for families like the Landecks to become the face of the antiwar movement: archetypal middle Americans who can no longer respond with platitudinous faith in our leaders to the persistent waste--a word Richard Landeck does not shy from--of the lives of our young men and women in Iraq.

On Saturday, they went to nearby Bloomingdale to join in a peace rally, their first.

"This war is wrong," says the last paragraph of Landeck's letter to the president. "Because of your ineptness ... I have lost my son, my pride and joy, my hero! (You) will never understand what the families of soldiers are going through and don't try to tell me you do. My wife, my daughter and I cannot believe we have lost our only son and brother to a ridiculous political war."


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